Have you ever wondered about cooking Indian food at home? Well it’s not as hard as you think, though it does take a little planning. At this Indian dinner, I served six traditional dishes from southern India. That probably sounds like a lot and it did take a few hours to prepare everything. Fortunately, many Indian dishes improve with sitting, so they can be made early. Also, these are relatively inexpensive dishes because they’re all vegetarian.
some Indian spices
I’ve cooked Indian before so already had most of the spices that were needed. These can be found at many conventional supermarkets and specialty food stores. I like to go to an Indian market in the San Francisco Mission area at 548 Valencia Street called Bombay Bazar for hard-to-find Indian ingredients. That’s where I got the paneer (Indian cheese) and the pre-made mango chutney that I served as a side dish. For the rest of the fresh ingredients, I went to one of the many local Mexican markets in the same neighborhood.
Heguiberto frying stuffed peppers
I found the recipes I used on a variety of web sites and modified them to suit my taste. For a party of seven we had: an Ayurvedic recipe of mixed bean sprouts and corn salad, an Andhra garlicy tomato curry, an eggplant curry, mirchi bajji or stuffed anaheim peppers deep fried, a cabbage vepudu (a type of spicy cooked cabbage salad) and paneer byriani (a rice dish with marinated paneer, green beans and rice). I offered mango and date chutneys as condiments. Because many of the dishes are fairly spicy, they were served with champagne, rose and a Spanish red brought by two of the guests that could stand the heat. For dessert we had a chocolate cake brought by another guest with tea and a sweet liquor.
The meal was tremendous; and the company, wonderful. My highest compliment came from the one guest of Indian descent. She had grown up back East with many of these dishes served to her by her mother. She thought that the food was “amazing.”
I highly recommend that you venture out of your comfort zone into Indian cooking. It’s not that hard, really fun and the results are worth it.
Garlicky Tomato Curry Recipe
homemade Indian banquet
10 fresh ripe skinned Roma tomatoes chopped fine
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
5 fresh curry leaves
10-12 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder or more for spicier finish
1 tsp coriander powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp grated jaggery (palm sugar) or substitute with dark brown sugar
½ bunch of chopped cilantro
2 tbsp canola oil
1- Heat oil in a large pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. About 2 minutes. Add
crushed garlic and curry leaves, sauté for further 10 seconds.
2 Add onions, sauté until translucent. Add chili, turmeric and coriander powders as well as salt. Stir to combine.
3- Add chopped tomatoes, plus sugar and cook uncovered on high heat stirring constantly for about 10-15 min. I used a non-stick pan for the job.
5- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves
Mirchi Bajji (stuffed deep fried green peppers)
9 Anaheim peppers, cut lengthwise seeds and ribs removed.
Canola oil for frying
1 tbsp oil
1 chopped onion
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp chaat masala (spice blend of dried mango, cumin, salt, coriander, black pepper, asafetida and hot paprika/chili)
3 medium potatoes cooked in salted water and roughly mashed
¼ to ½ tsp chili powder
½ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
Heat oil and sauté onion for 4-5 minutes, add ginger and spices, stir. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 3 minutes more stirring constantly. Set aside
1 cup chick pea flour (gram flour)
¼ cup rice flour
Pinch baking soda
½ tsp cumin
1 cup water
Wisk all ingredients together, it should have a pancake consistency
Stuff peppers with the potato mixture. Dip one by one into the batter coating them well on all sides and drop
them gently into hot oil (3 at the time). Fry each batch for about 5-6 minutes.
Mixed Sprouts Corn Salad Recipe
1 cup mixed legume sprouts of your choice (chick peas, beans, pigeon peas)
1 cup of steamed sweet corn (from 2 ears)
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp walnut oil
1/2 tsp of freshly pan roasted cumin powder
pinch of black pepper powder
Juice of 2-3 limes
Pinch of chili pepper powder
½ bunch of chopped cilantro
1 container of sprouts (pea or daikon)
1- Steam legume sprouts for 8-9 minutes or longer if you like it softer, let it cool to room temperature, add corn and daikon/pea sprouts
2-Prepare cumin seeds as follows: Add cumin seeds to a hot pan and roast it till fragrant (few seconds) Careful not to burn them. Transfer to a mortar or food grinder. Grind into a fine powder. It makes a big difference in flavor
3- Prepare dressing by mixing together ginger, salt, chili, cumin, black pepper, lemon juice and walnut oil
4- Pour dressing over sprouts mix, adjust seasoning and serve with cilantro
Cabbage Vepudu Recipe
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 onion, very finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder (adjust)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
big pinch cumin powder
2-3 tsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 minced cloves garlic
4 fresh curry leaves (optional)
1-Boil a quart of water with a pinch of turmeric, add cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes just to wilt it. Drain and reserve.
2- Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and toast them (about 1 minute). Add chopped onion and sauté it until translucent. Add garlic and curry leaves keep sautéing for few more seconds.
3-Stir in chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder, add cabbage, mix well cooking for further 2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro
1 and 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed till water runs clear
3 and ¾ cups of water
1 cup paneer (Indian cheese) in cubes
1/4 cup fresh/frozen pea
1/4 cup green beans
1 tsp chili powder
a pinch turmeric powder
3-4 strands coriander leaves
5 tbsp Canola oil
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
3 green chilies (Serrano or Jalapeño), seeded and ribbed
½ inch of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
few strands saffron
Spice (grind into powder):
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ inch of a cinnamon stick
1 tsp poppy seeds
1-Using a bowl mix 3 tbsp of yogurt, turmeric, 1tsp of spice powder and salt. Add paneer cubes and marinate for about 2 hours
2-Heat 3tbs canola oil, add cardamom pods, bay leaf, rice and salt, sauté rice mixture for 3 minutes. Add 2 and 1/2 cups of water let it boil, reduce heat to minimum, cover the pan and let it cook till water has evaporated about 10-15 min, remove from heat. Let it rest, covered, for 5 min.
3- Heat 1 tbs of canola oil, transfer paneer to pan and brown them a bit (about 5 minutes), put aside in a bowl.
4- Using a food processor or a mortar grind into a paste the green chilies, garlic and ginger.
5-In the same pan used for browning the paneer, add 1 tbsp of canola oil, the paste, the vegetables and sauté till the raw smell is gone (5-10 min). Add yogurt and any leftover juices from marinate plus some salt and stir. Sprinkle about ½ tsp of spice powder and cilantro over it.
6- Assemble the Biryani on a baking dish (Pyrex) layering half of the rice at the bottom, followed by the paneer and veggies. Cover with remaining rice and sprinkle saffron threads over it. Poor 1 cup of water over rice, wrap the dish with aluminum foil and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes at 300F
Eggplant pulusu (eggplant and tamarind pulp)
1 very large eggplant
1 onion, finely chopped
¼ cup of thick tamarind pulp
2 green chilies, finely chopped (leave the seeds and ribs out if you don’t want it very spicy)
1 and ½ tbsp of brown sugar or grated palm sugar (jaggery)
Chopped cilantro to taste
1 1/2 cups water
salt to taste
2 red chilies (Italian pepperoncini) broken into pieces seeds removed
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida– (called hing or ingua in India)
5 fresh curry leaves
4 tbsp canola oil
1- Grease the eggplant with part of the oil and roast/bake it in the over till it collapses. Rotate it few times just to ensure even baking. Remove and let it cool down. Peel skin off and mash eggplant into a pulp.
2-Add to eggplant pulp the chopped onions, green chilies, tamarind extract, sugar or palm sugar and salt. Combine well to form a thick paste.
3-Heat remaining oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add cumin seeds, red chili (pepperoncini), and asafetida and curry leaves followed by the eggplant pulp, stir it for 3-5 minutes and serve garnished with cilantro leaves
Recipes adapted from blog: